Google will release Google Desktop for Mac on Wednesday, marking the first time the search giant will make its desktop tool available to Mac users. Mac users already have a search tool with Apple's Spotlight, but Google says its utility will work alongside the Mac OS X 10.4 feature perfectly.
"We designed Google Desktop for Mac to be a companion for Spotlight," says Rose Yao, Google Desktop for Mac Product Manager. "Google Desktop searches users' web history and you can set it up to search Gmail too."
Google Desktop will also utilise any Spotlight plug-ins users have on their systems. There is no need for developers to have to rewrite plug-ins specifically for Google. The application also respects Spotlight's privacy list and will not search those items.
Using Google Desktop quick search is a bit like launching a Widget without the need to go into Dashboard, according to Google. Two taps on the Command key brings up a small search window — as soon as users start typing, Google begins showing results, whether it's a document or an application.
The results window shows the last ten items that match a search query. If you didn't find what you are looking for, it's possible to click a link on the bottom of the results to see all the items found.
This launches a default web browser and opens a page that looks exactly like the Google search page on the web. The results page shows how many of each type of document Google Desktop found. It shows results for email, web history, files, media and others.
The results page in a user's browser also has a search box, so they can continue to search their hard drive from there if so inclined. Of course, there is also the option to search the web for your search query as well.
Users who go to Google's online search page and have Google Desktop installed will notice a new search criteria. "Desktop" has been added to web, Images, News and Maps. If you do a search and click on Desktop, Google will show you the local results it found.
Google representatives say that during an integrated search, a user's computer's content is not sent to Google. Further, Google does not see or record users' Google Desktop results without their permission. If you are still concerned, you can choose to disable the integration option in the preferences.
Google Desktop can also help users find deleted files. According to the company, Google Desktop creates cached copies (or snapshots) of users' files and other items each time they view them, and stores these copies on your Mac's hard drive. As a result, you can often use Desktop to find prior versions of your files or ones you've accidentally deleted.
Google says there is no Gadget integration in this version, but that will come in a later release.
"This is a big step for Google on the Mac platform," Yao says. "If you know how to use Google, you know how to use Google Desktop for Mac."